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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (Reformkarte) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883.

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte Nr.1 with full-length figurative designs and non-standard German suit symbols, conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, illustrated by Jacob Hirsch & Martin Lämmel, and printed lithographically by J. G. Fritzsche, Leipzig, 1883. The four suits represent the four most important human characteristics: Acorns = force; Ivy = loyalty; Turnips = diligence and Sunflowers = wisdom. The king of acorns depicts Charlemagne or Charles the Great with his coat of arms on the deuce. The king of ivy leaves depicts Frederick Barbarossa who was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death in 1190. The king of sunflowers depicts Rudolf of Habsburg (1218–1291) and the king of turnips is Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor from 1493-1519. The obers and unters depict attendant heralds or footmen. The numeral cards feature attractive vignettes at the bottom showing allegories of industry, craft, wealth, etc.

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (New German playing cards) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883 Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (New German playing cards) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883 Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (New German playing cards) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883 Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (New German playing cards) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883

Above: Neue Deutsche Spielkarte Nr.1 (New German playing cards) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, designed by Jacob Hirsch & Martin Lämmel, and printed by J. G. Fritzsche, Leipzig, 1883. 32 or 36 cards. There are several variants of the deck. Some have Queens instead of Obers, some are without index signs and some are without ornamental borders. The initials T.S. are on the nine of Sunflowers and J.H. are on the eight of Sunflowers along with “83”, no doubt referring to the year of the deck’s creation.

CREDITS & REFERENCES

All images courtesy Rod Starling.

See also: British Museum

Extra research courtesy Rod Starling and Peter Endebrock www.endebrock.de

The drawings were also published in book form, including four queens and all the number cards 2-10, as 56 colour lithographs accompanied by verses, printed by W. Drugulin, Leipzig, 1883   more

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By Rod Starling

Member since January 09, 2013

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Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.

Also by Rod Starling

Download as Adobe PDF files:

"Playing Card Art Collectors Extraordinaire"

"Some Facts About Facsimiles"

"Something New and Topical"

"Tales From the Stage"

"Shuffling Along With History"

"Steamboat Cards and the Mississippi Mystique"

"Piatnik: High Quality & Longevity"

"Three Rare Playing Card Back Designs"

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